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LGBT Postcards From Netroots Nation



My better half, Caleb Eigsti, and I just finished a week in Las Vegas, where we attended our first Netroots Nation. The conference claims it “amplifies progressive voices by providing an online and in-person campus for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate.” In reality, it was a swarming of over 2100 progressive activists, organizations, writers, and bloggers, who descended upon Sin City to talk shop, create new alliances, and rekindle old friendships.

(On Twitter, however, Netroots Nation, better known as #NN10, was an opportunity for the Ridiculous Right, especially, “#TCOT,” to lie and snark all weekend long. It’s truly amazing how disgusting, asinine, and juvenile our adversaries are!)

Netroots Nation this year was held at the Las Vegas Rio, which had a nice pool with nice fruity drinks…

but terrible Internet service…

Caleb and I spent an evening in Paris — the Paris Las Vegas! — where we won BIG MONEY!

Then, after Netroots Nation finished on Saturday, Caleb and I took a mini-vacation. I originally started writing this on Sunday from our room at the Bellagio, which offered an amazing view…

and amazing raspberry-stuffed french toast!

Now, it’s the wee hours of Tuesday morning. I’m on a plane (jetBlue!) sitting next to my partner, and trying to take all my thoughts and feelings about our first Netroots Nation conference and give you the “big picture” take-aways.

I confess I was surprised at the relatively small number of members of the LGBT community who attended, although I’m told it was our “best” showing ever. That concerns me.

Next year’s Netroots Nation has already been announced. It will be in June, in Minneapolis, where it’s cooler!…

… than Las Vegas’ 107 degree heat!

It was great to finally meet so many notables from our community, including The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld, Pam Spaulding and Autumn Sandeen of Pam’s House Blend, Good As You’s Jeremy Hooper, and (yeah!) my (awesome!) editor, Michael A. Jones, as well as say hello to some amazing friends (all icons!) like Mike Rogers, Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson, NGLTF’s Inga Sarda-Sorensen, Joe Jervis, aka, Joe.My. God, and GetEqual co-founder Robin McGehee.

Caleb and I attended many of the LGBT panels and caucuses. Most of our focus was on the issue of marriage, but we definitely noted some strong themes that ran throughout the entire conference.

Perhaps the most-repeated was the idea that all progressives need to work together, because we share the same ideals, and even if you don’t care about, say, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and even if I don’t care about, say, the environment (of course I do!,) we share the same adversaries/enemies, and we need to pool our resources and manpower (person-power?)

(Note: Read Caleb’s excellent takes on Netroots Nation: “Organizing Equality Under Obama, No Better Than Being Under Bush?” and “Marriage Equality Through A Netroots Nation Looking Glass.”)

As one speaker put it, the Tea Party has shown that they can easily switch from attacks on gays to attacks on blacks to attacks on Obama. We need to deploy the same flexibility and wide-reaching push-back skills.

So, after taking everything in and mulling it all over, here’s what I want you to know and to think about:

1.    Progressives, and perhaps especially LGBTs, seem beaten-down, though not, by any means, out. The LGBT leadership seemed especially focused on finding the positive in all the negatives, without changing gears or focus. It’s safe to say, from all I heard, that they are ready to continue our long slog at the same, slow pace, plodding along, offering little new tactics or strategy. This is a problem.

2.    I am, however, very pleased to finally see our leadership organizations working together. Long-time readers of this blog will know that I have respectfully chastised our leaders for not finding ways to work together. It would appear they have all now exchanged contact information!

3.    LGBT bloggers and activists need to now follow this lead and start working together. I’ve felt this way for a long time. Why don’t we share more information among ourselves, so we can be more efficient and effective in keeping our readers informed? Some of my LGBT blogging and activist friends have been very willing and ready to do this. Most recently, I’m thinking of Rod McCollum (Rod 2.0) and Scott Wooledge (DailyKos) with whom I worked on the sad, first anniversary of the murder of Seaman August Provost, and folks like Joe Jervis and David Mixner, who have been so supportive of me. (Thanks to you all!)

4.    You need to get (more) involved. Seriously. Whatever degree of involvement you have now, and I know for many readers of this blog you spend most of your waking hours “on patrol,” you need to step up the fight and get more of your friends, family, and co-workers working on our issues. There is no doubt in my mind that in just a very few short months, if Democrats don’t flood the polls, we will have given Congress — both houses — over to the GOP. That is unacceptable and cannot happen. If it does, we will have only ourselves to blame.

Again, you may remember the piece I wrote last summer over at Bilerico, “Fill The Void,” in which I warned that if we didn’t flood the media with positive news and information about LGBT issues, the right would “fill the void” with their lies and hate. That was one of the reasons we created, “The Great Nationwide Kiss-In.” It worked!

I want to challenge all my LGBT friends and allies to find ways to counteract the lies we know will be coming from the Right this August. With Congress in recess, they’ll have little to do and we can easily end up their target. Let’s take this opportunity this year to throw the first punch.

Next year, I truly want to see some things happen differently at Netroots Nation 2011. Primarily, I want more opportunities for the LGBT caucus to work together. I want our bloggers and activists and organizations locked in a room for a full day, sharing ideas and frustrations and coming up not only with ways to be more efficient and effective, but with actual strategies and focuses. There was a pre-Netroots day where 50+ bloggers got together, and Mike Rogers promises to open it up to many more next year.

I’ll leave you with one final thought: Regardless of what you call yourself, a progressive, a liberal, a Democrat, or someone with left-leaning tendencies, it is critical that we stand together now, and through November. Or surely, we will stand alone.

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Reporters Reveal Some Republicans Don’t Understand What a Default Means – and Don’t Believe the Debt Ceiling Is Real



CNN’s Jim Acosta and John Avlon compared notes on Republicans speaking on raising the debt ceiling over the weekend only to realize that the far-right members refuse to support the deal between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden.

Acosta cited an interview he conducted Saturday with Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN), who said he’s voted for shutdowns and would vote again this week.

After ranting about cutting spending, Acosta said, “Well, you can have the argument about cutting spending during the budget and appropriations process, but as you know, Congressman, the U.S. has never missed making payments on its bills before. In the last 45 years, Congress has raised the debt ceiling 65 times. So, again, I go back to the question: is it responsible — I understand what you’re saying about how much your daughter spends, but we’re not talking about $15. We’re talking about the American economy. Is it responsible to be the deciding vote to send the country into default?”

Burchett claimed that the country wasn’t going to be sent into default. He crafted a conspiracy that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen kept changing the date the U.S. default would happen.

“Nobody is, as the young people say, nobody has provided the receipts. Nobody has called her into Washington and said, ‘Show us the math on this,'” he said.

Yellen works at the Treasury Department, which is in Washington.

Burchett also had his own math, saying that if they cut the budget spending to the 2022 levels, the country would be in a surplus. The House passed a massive defense spending package that would have required cuts from other places.

“All they’re doin’ right now is scarin’ people,” Burchett claimed. “They’re talkin’ about cutting programs that have no need other than political cronyism, we’re tellin’ our seniors — and the Democrats will, and I get it — they’re tellin’ the seniors they’re gonna be cut. Veterans are gonna be cut. And nothing can be farther (sic) from the truth. And that’s just the reality of politics.”

The reason Democrats were citing cuts to seniors and veterans goes back to the Republican Party budget bill that required cuts to seniors and veterans. That’s because returning to the 2022 budget levels means making cuts to increases already passed by Congress.

Acosta turned back to Burchett to ask if he believed the debt ceiling wasn’t real.

“I think the debt ceiling is — it’s just a creative thing to hold us into responsible — into check,” said Burchett.

Avlon cited Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), who claimed he refused to sign a bill that would bankrupt the economy.

“Well, hold it right there,” said Avlon. “I mean, if you let the country default on its debt, that’s functionally the same thing.”

An annoyed Avlon was frustrated the process was even something allowed to happen.

“It’s a fact, Congress has to control the pursestrings. So, frankly, someone should figure out the 14th Amendment side of this because I think this is not the way we’re supposed to play ball, the greatest nation in the world constantly every couple of years when there’s a Democratic president flirting with defaulting on our debt because it’s fiscal policy by extortion,” said Avlon. “This is a win to the extent that we came up to a bipartisan agreement, but this is not the way the greatest nation in the world should conduct its fiscal policy. It’s ridiculous. And it didn’t happen when Donald Trump was president because Democrats worked with Republicans to ensure the debt ceiling was raised three times.”

See the discussion below or at the link here.

Image: GOP Rep. Tim Burchett


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‘Start the Kevin McCarthy Death-Clock’ After Biden Wins Debt Ceiling Battle: Rick Wilson



Appearing late Saturday night on MSNBC after it was announced that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had reached an agreement “in principle’ on a budget deal, former GOP strategist Rick Wilson claimed this could be the beginning of the end for McCathy’s speakership.

Sitting in on a panel with guest host Michael Steele, Wilson suggested that McCarthy’s decision to compromise with the president to avoid a default that would spin the economy into chaos will not go over well with far-right members of his House caucus who could make a motion to “vacate the chair” to express their displeasure.

Asked by host Steel about what comes next, Wilson stated it was a win for the White House which will not make conservatives happy.

RELATED: ‘Crazy cuckoo MAGA people’ could sink debt ceiling deal: Dem strategist

“Great night for Joe Biden, great night for the White House even though I think their messaging has been kind of tentative the past few weeks” the Lincoln Project founder began. “I think though we are now going to start the Kevin McCarthy death-clock. He has certainly got a very angry part of his caucus tonight who probably burning up his phone no matter how good it is for the country not to default.”

“It’s not going to please the chaos caucus in the GOP,” he added.

Watch below or at the link:


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Debt Ceiling: McCarthy Faces ‘Lingering Anger’ and a Possible Revolt as Far-Right House Members Start Issuing Threats



As House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues to negotiate a deal to avoid a debt crisis, members of the far-right Freedom Caucus are growing furious with him over broken promises he made to them.

According to MSNBC political analyst Steve Benen, with a slim GOP majority in the House, McCarthy is walking a tightrope to get a budget deal passed and may need help from House Democrats if members of his caucus refuse to go along with him.

As Benen points out, in order to win the speakership McCarthy agreed to an easier path for a motion to “vacate the chair” which could end his tenure as Speaker. That could come into play if the Freedom Caucus stages a revolt.

“… as the negotiations approach an apparent finish line, the House Republicans’ most radical faction is learning that it isn’t likely to get everything its members demanded — and for the Freedom Caucus, that’s not going to work,” he wrote in his MSNBC column.

ALSO IN THE NEWS: Trump in danger of heightened espionage charges after bombshell report: legal expert

Citing a Washington Times report that stated, “[Freedom Caucus members] want everything from the debt limit bill passed by the House last month plus several new concessions from the White House,” Benen suggested far-right House Republicans are now issuing veiled threats.

In an interview, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) stated, “I am going to have to go have some blunt conversations with my colleagues and the leadership team. I don’t like the direction they are headed.”

With Politico reporting, “The [House Freedom Caucus] was already unlikely to support a final bipartisan deal, but lingering anger with Kevin McCarthy could have lasting implications on his speakership,” Benen added, “If this is simply a matter of lingering ill-will from members who come to believe that GOP leaders ‘caved,’ the practical consequences might be limited. But let’s also not forget that McCarthy, while begging his own members for their support during his protracted fight for the speaker’s gavel, agreed to tweak the motion-to-vacate-the-chair rules, which at least in theory, would make it easier for angry House Republicans to try to oust McCarthy from his leadership position.”

Adding the caveat that he is not predicting an imminent McCarthy ouster he added, “But if the scope of the Freedom Caucus’ discontent reaches a fever pitch, a hypothetical deal clears thanks to significant Democratic support, don’t be surprised if we all start hearing the phrase ‘vacate the chair” a lot more frequently.”

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